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tirer le diable par la queue

The French expression “tirer le diable par la queue” translates literally to “to pull the devil by the tail”.

English meaning:

  • to live hand to mouth

French meaning:

  • vivre sans peu de ressourcesto live with few resources

Example sentence:

  • La réalité c’est que la plupart des américains tirent le diable par la queue : le rêve américain deveint impossible à atteindre. The reality is that the majority of Americans live hand to mouth and that the American dream is becoming impossible to reach.


  • un/une précaire (noun) – person who’s job is unstable
  • précaire (adjective) – unstable, insecure (with regards to jobs and income).

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David Issokson

David Issokson is a lifelong language enthusiast. His head is swimming with words and sounds as he speaks over six languages. Of all the languages he speaks, he's the most passionate about French! David has helped hundreds of students to improve their French in his private online lessons. When procrastinating working on his site,, David enjoys his time skiing and hiking in Teton Valley, Idaho.

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